Small Engine Mechanics

Specifics of the Job

Small engine mechanics perform routine maintenance checks on equipment to reduce the number of breakdowns. During these performance checks, mechanics inspect brakes, electrical systems, spark plugs, carburetors, and fuel systems. Necessary repairs or replacements are made at this time. When malfunctioning machinery is brought into a shop, a mechanic must diagnose the problem. Larger shops utilize computerized diagnostic tools to determine the trouble spot. Adjustments or repairs are then completed.

Small engine mechanics use a variety of tools. Hand tools, such as wrenches and screwdrivers are used often. Drills, grinders, and other power tools are utilized for customized repairs. They also use hoists for lifting heavy equipment and ammeters or voltmeters for locating faulty parts.

Motorcycle mechanics repair motorcycles, mopeds, motor scooters, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles. Many specialize in one kind of equipment. Others work for dealerships repairing a certain make or model of motorcycles or equipment.

Motorboat mechanics are often referred to as marine equipment mechanics. They repair and maintain inboard or outboard engines for small or large motorboats. The engines on small boats can be removed and taken to a repair shop. Larger boats with inboard-outboard engines are taken by water to a repair location. Repairs are done at the dock.

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics service lawnmowers, chainsaws, edge trimmers, go-carts, snowmobiles, or snow blowers. This kind of work is very seasonal.

Necessary Qualifications

Most employers prefer candidates with formal training experience. However, very few vocational and trade schools offer programs in small engine mechanics. Therefore, the majority of small engine mechanics are trained on-the-job. Many employers send mechanics to programs offered through motorcycle or engine manufacturers.

Small engine mechanics should possess a basic knowledge of electronics. Mechanical aptitude is necessary. Communication skills are also needed when dealing with customers.

Earnings and Advancement

Some small engine mechanics gain enough experience and are promoted to shop supervisor or service manager. These individuals must demonstrate superior interpersonal and leadership skills.

Earnings fall between $7.00 and $21.00 an hour. Outdoor power equipment mechanics tend to earn less due to the seasonal nature of their businesses. Small engine mechanics who are employed by larger companies receive health benefits and paid vacation. Uniforms are often supplied, as well.

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